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Oud Sluis (2) – Service in full force!

The best days were definitely the ones where the whole team was all on the same page.
From the beginning till the end.
Only 1 way to make that possible: BE PREPARED!

Besides being prepared, communication was another important part of the equation.
That’s why we had somebody ‘running the passe’.
This person was in charge of conducting the service, communicating specialties to every department in the kitchen, checking in with Lotte, the sommelier if guests had their wines and instructing the servers to deliver the right plates to the right guests.

It was a very stressful position but having somebody capable in charge of the flow made it so much easier for everybody.
I learned running the passe from LJ, he was incredibly good at it, knew what was going every single minute of the day and could intervene when he saw a glitch in the system.
Some days were more fun then others, some days I wished I didn’t have to do it, somedays I felt defeated when I had made a wrong decision and guests had to wait 25 more minutes for their food.

But those times made me stronger and I grew to love this position.
Running the passe became my drug, my addiction. Everyday I tried to improve something. I pushed the team to their limits, in return they allowed me to make calculated risks in asking out the next course without all plates being cleared.
We were on a constant race, had death lines to beat.
One of the reasons my nick name became The Iron Lady.
I was ruthless but knew the team was on my side. I’m telling you, the pressure is high when there is an amazing DJ playing at La Rocca on Sunday night! All main courses had to out by 10:15pm!

We created series of tables that came in together, would get their starter together, main course, desserts and eventually coffee and sweets.
I communicated the series in numbers with their exceptions, if there were special requests or VIP’s to the kitchen.
I translated those numbers to tables for the servers and seat number per guest.

That was our little system, how the ants would run in the kitchen, how we brought Sergio’s vision to live in the restaurant.

Thinking about those days makes me realize how much I love the hospitality industry.
It makes me happy to make other people happy.
To make their day a little brighter, a little bit easier or relaxed.
Both guests and teams alike.

Xo – Ann

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The People :: Sergio Herman

This creative mastermind doesn’t need any introduction.
But for those who don’t know him:
– Like what? Have you been sleeping under a stone last 8 years?!

Owner of Sergio Herman Hospitality Group
– Restaurant Oud Sluis ***, Restaurant Pure C *, Restaurant The Jane **, AirRepublic and AirCafe, Blueness and Frites Atelier.

Anyhow, working for this hospitality guru, taught me a lot!

5 take away’s from working for Sergio Herman: 

Be PASSIONATE

Working 16h a day is a LONG day. If you’re not motivated or passionate, you won’t survive. Would I do it all again – YES! without a doubt!
Working with a team that is fully committed and 200% passionate about the food and hospitality industry is mind blowing! It’s like a drug, including the addiction.
Everyday we pushed each other to be better, faster, harder, stronger.
I will never forget the passion of Nick and Sergio either.
The way they danced in the kitchen when everything was going smooth, how they could push everybody to their own limits – and beyond, the energy we could create as a team.
Until today, I still thrive on that. When I recreate the memory in my head, I can push my team to be on their A-game.

Learn from your MISTAKES

We were allowed to make mistakes.
As long as you only made them once and learned from it.
Every 6 to 8 weeks, Sergio would come up with a complete new menu.
Learning the new plates and all it’s ingredients was part of the job.
One of my first weeks, I was in the dining area, providing guests with water, bread, utensils. One of the servers was carrying the tray with plates for table 15. He asked me if I could serve them and explain it to the guests. It was the main course of the daily lunch menu. It was something with a fish and green sauce. I went back into the kitchen and asked what kind of fish it was so I could explain it to the guests.
The ‘This girl should never ever come into the kitchen again!’ made it pretty clear I had to study the menu and all it’s ingredients.
Believe me, from that point on, I always knew exactly what was on the plate, till every single detail, flower and herb.

Take care of your REGULARS

Your regular guests are most important for your business.
Consider them your husband or wife. You marry them and you promise to love them in good days and bad days. When everything is going well, they are happy but when it’s not, they’ll forgive you – most of the time. We had a large group of regular visitors. Some of them were annually, some quarterly, some even monthly. We kept their records, knew their favorite plates, their favorite table to sit on, their allergies and dietary wishes.
I made it my personal mission to get to know them all and to remember their last visit, what they looked like, what happened last time they were at the restaurant.
I can honestly say, my facial recognition skill is on point because of that!

Be CURIOUS

We were stimulated to grow – but only if you could train.
It creates leadership.
Whenever they changed stations in the kitchen or front of house, you had to train your successor. If he or she wasn’t able to cover the section by him/herself within 1 week, you would be going back to your old station.

Take care of your TEAM

We were respected and appreciated
Sergio wouldn’t always tell us, but we all knew.
If you take care of your people, your people will take care of your guests.
Your guests will take care of the business.
We had lunch and dinner every day in the restaurant, sometimes even breakfast if somebody showed up late. And on Friday’s, we had snack night.
We would make a cocktail – yay for Moscow Mules and Whiskey sours in buckets!- and one of the guys in the kitchen would make a snack.
If you came from abroad, it had to be something typical from your country.
That’s how I got the chance to eat Russian, Colombian, Fish and Chips in a wallpaper, Sushi, Kaiserschmarrn, apfelstrudl, ‘Kapsalon’ and duck rilletes from the ducks we went hunting for the week before.

Learn from the best, they reached the top for a reason.
I feel extremely blessed to have worked for Sergio Herman and would do it again if the opportunity came up. I am the person I am today partly because of him, his leadership and his creativity.

Xo – Ann

In memoriam: Oud Sluis *** (1)

In memoriam, because by the end of 2013, chef Sergio Herman decided to close the doors of this iconic restaurant in the South of The Netherlands.

3 Michelin Stars
20/20 in Gault Millau
Best restaurant in The Netherlands by Lekker Magazine
Top 20 in World’s 50 Best Restaurants

‘Always learn from the best.’
Another great lesson from my parents.
They are the best for a reason.

I still remember the first day I started working there.
It was somewhere in February 2010. It was a cold and rainy day.
But inside, there was an energy that could fuel hundreds of people.
I was asked to work a day with the team, to see how I would like it.

I felt like coming home. This was my dream, this was my energy.
High end hospitality, a team that ran like a well functioning machine, guests that were impressed every time you brought a new plate.
At the end of the day – around 1:30am- I sat down with Benjamin, the Maitre D to talk about my experience that day. Needless to say I would love to become part of this team!

There are too many great stories that I will share with you in the next couple blogs!
Stay tuned if you want to hear about the ‘Kissing Lips’, I-Foie or Chess board.
Hint: They were names of the plates!

Xo – Ann

Photo credit: www.foksuk.nl

La Vara – Escape to Spain …

Without a doubt one of my personal favorites!
The first time I visited La Vara, I was just wandering in the streets of the cutest Brooklyn Neighborhood ever, Cobble Hill. With a city guide in one hand and a refreshing drink in the other, I parked myself on one of the benches in Cobble Hill Park while I was looking for a nice place for dinner.

La Vara was listed as one of the To-Go spots in this area and was just next to the park.
This Spanish Tapas restaurant creates the perfect vibe for every occasion.

Want to grab a cocktail and a quick bite? Ask for a seat at the bar.
Date night with your boy/girl friend? A table for two please!
Girls night or meeting with the in-laws? The 2 benches by the windows will make sure everybody’s having a good time!

Sharing is caring and all of the plates are prepared perfectly.
No need to make it harder on yourself, just order everything!
In case you do need to make a decision: Go for the CARABINEROS!
This delicacy alone is worth the trip!

Whenever you are in dire need of some really good tapas, La Vara…

La Vara
268 Clinton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Photo credit: La Vara

Karasu – Treasure hunting in the neighborhood!

The best thing about moving around in New York City, is the search for new local gems. And since I recently moved into Fort Greene, looks like I have a lot to discover! Alongside Dekalb Avenue, there are plenty of options but this one is from outer space!

Secretly located inside Walter’s, I felt like being on a treasure hunt!

The little kid was dancing around inside me, – thank God she’s over 21y – because those cocktails …!
Never knew a combo of Yuzu, grapefruit and Shochu would be so delicious!

Same goes for that Ribeye for 2, don’t think about it, just order it.
Besides, couples that share food together, stay together!

– Isn’t that something they say?

Karasu
166 Dekalb Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217
– Entrance through Walters

Photo credit: Karasu

Momosan Ramen – Irasshaimase!

I have never felt more WELCOME in a restaurant then I felt in Momosan.
Even on a regular Thursday, after a busy day at work.
Every guest that walks in into this Ramen-Heaven gets a shout out by the team, creating an instant feel-good hospitality experience.

While sipping our Sake – yes, they have plenty – we soaked in this eclectic mix of business people and foodie’s.

Even though the menu is rather limited, we had everything we needed!
Taco’s, pigs ears and their signature Ramen Bowl.
Possibly the more unusual combo I have had so far in New York, but it worked.

And the correlation between classical music and fine dining?
Wiped off of the high seating tables!
Rihanna’s ‘Friends with a Monster’ was living proof that music does have a huge impact on the atmosphere!

Momosan – Ramen and Sake
342 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10016

Photo credit: Momosan

Gran Electrica – Where even the wallpaper contributes to the experience!

When Summer is turning into Fall, and you only have a couple nights left to spend it outdoors with somebody you like,

Take them to Gran Electrica,
This Mexican gem offers everything what you need for a great dining experience!

First of all, service here is on point. If you need another reason, drinks absolutely fabulous, the back yard the perfect setting for a romantic dinner and the fab wall paper will give you the perfect conversation starter.

Besides all that, Gran Electrica is secretly located next to Grimaldi’s,
When all the tourists are trying to get a pizza from the neighbors, the cool Brooklyn crowd will sneak into Gran Electrica!

Gran Electrica
5 Front Street – Dumbo
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Wallpaper by:
Flavor Paper
216 Pacific Street
Brooklyn, NY

Photo credit: Gran Electrica 

Walters – Where it’s hard to be a stranger

Tuesday night dinners are as unpredictable as hurricane season,

You might get hit, you might survive,

Either way, just go with the flow, you might end up in a great neighborhood spot which will give you a great story to tell!

So here’s my story,

Last Tuesday, I was just wondering around in my new neighborhood, Fort Greene, looking for dinner.
Was it the pre-Thanksgiving buzz?
Or just the weather turning?
Or the cool crowd inside?

I don’t know but my experience was definitely remarkable.

From the lovely hostess, over my seat at the bar, to Kevin – the great bartender, even the lady with her blue hat trying to make conversation with every single person at the bar.

It made my day better, gave me a smile on my face and for sure a reason to return!

It’s hard to be a stranger here!

Come in and enjoy!

 

Walters
166 Dekalb Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Photo credit Walters restaurant 

Sweet, Sweet Polly

Men want to date her,
Women want to be like her.
She stares at you from inside her frame on the wall,
Making sure you’re being served well.
Sweet Polly

And you can be sure Bruno and his team are here to take care of you.
With his team of professionals, they deliver the right experience every single time,

Sipping cocktails at the bar, savoring the small plates or watching the cool Brooklyn crowd.

This place makes you feel sexy, even without a date …

Sweet Polly 
71 Sixth Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Picture credit by Sweet Polly